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Colorado clean energy industry recovers from pandemic losses

DENVER – Colorado’s clean energy industry lost over 4,000 jobs in 2020 but rebounded, along with the rest of the country, after a low point earlier in the year.

The U.S. had reported as many as 600,000 clean energy job losses at one point last year, but a strong rebound reduced that number to about 307,000 job losses by the end of the year, said Bob Keefe, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, on Monday.

Colorado’s clean energy industry employed 58,182 people at the end of 2020, the Denver Post reported. The state is ranked 18th in the U.S. in industry employment. It lost 6.8% of its jobs last year, but employment bounced back 6% from June to December.

The solar industry in Colorado has regained sufficient traction, said Mike Kruger, CEO of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association.

“We are full strength,” Kruger said. “I expect, when the numbers come out, we’ll be about a thousand folks down, from 7,000 to 6,000 in 2020. I think we’ll be up from that this year, given that all my members are hiring for everything.”

The report from Environmental Entrepreneurs is based on an analysis of preliminary energy employment data by BW Research Partnership. It shows that clean energy jobs are found in every state and 99% of all U.S. cities and counties, said Phil Jordan, vice president of the research firm.

The clean energy industry was growing by about 6% annually before the pandemic began, the report stated. Jordan said about 66% of clean energy businesses employ fewer than 20 people and many businesses have closed due to the pandemic.

“The sector has rebounded better than many in the U.S. from its summertime lows, but there’s still a long way to go,” Jordan said.